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New Day Sunday
Trump's Former NSA Adviser Floats Martial Law As Option To Overturn Election Results; Moderna Prepares To Ship First Vaccines As Nation Sees Record Hospitalizations And Deaths; Congress Closes In On $900 Billion Relief Package; Biden Climate Team To Tackle "Existential Threat Of Our Time."; Trump Downplays Massive Cyber Intrusion, Contradicts Secretary Of State Pompeo Who Says Russia Clearly Behind It; U.K. Imposes Lockdown Again As New COVID-19 Strain Spreads Faster. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired December 20, 2020 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A second vaccine to fight COVID is just one final step away from the go ahead. Now it just needs a final nod from the CDC director.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Moderna's version of the vaccine is likely to have a broader reach.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This vaccine rollout, four times larger than the initial Pfizer vaccine rollout.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're running out of space. We're converting any and every room into a patient --
DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES AT VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: We'll have two arms, two vaccines going at the same time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Retired Lieutenant General Flynn who had been the national security adviser making this pitch for use of martial law.
MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: He could take military capabilities, and he could place them in those states and basically rerun an election in each of those states.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This meeting began in the Oval Office. The president asked about it, and it was pushed back on by everybody in the room.
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: This is appalling. There's no other way to describe it. It's unbelievable. Almost certainly completely without precedent.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Our breaking news this morning, the historic vaccination campaign to wipe out COVID-19 is about to get a huge boost. The first shipments of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine beginning to roll out soon here. Now, a CDC advisory committee yesterday did vote to recommend it for people 18 and older. The CDC director is expected to accept that recommendation today. And then once he signs off, that's when vaccinations can begin.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Now, experts caution that it will take time to see the impact of the two vaccines now authorized. And the U.S. is reporting more people getting infected, more people sick in hospitals, and more dying from coronavirus than ever.
PAUL: We're covering the crisis and U.S. response from all angles this morning. CNN's Pete Muntean is outside the facility of the company that's distributing the vaccine for Moderna. We want to start though with CNN's Polo Sandoval.
Polo, good to see you this morning. I know a lot of states are struggling right now really hard just as the holidays are getting into full swing here. Help us set the scene, will you, for where we stand as these vaccines this morning are getting ready, we believe, to be rolled out.
SANDOVAL: Yes, Christi. So exactly where we stand right now, about 272,000 people have already received that first dose of the vaccine. The last six days or so since we started to see the vaccinations begin last Monday.
Here in New York alone, the governor's office saying that we do expect about 346,000 doses of the newly authorized Moderna vaccine that already on their way out here. But sadly, there are other numbers that are on the rise. Just Friday alone, close to a quarter of a million new infections, that's a new record.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): Over a quarter of a million Americans have gotten their first vaccination against COVID-19 so far, says the CDC. And if all goes well, that number is bound to shoot up with the first deliveries of Moderna's newly authorized vaccine already in transit. Infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner now believes Moderna's version of the vaccine is likely to have a broader reach than Pfizer's as it can be stored in normal freezers.
SCHAFFNER: It can go out to many more rural areas, smaller hospitals, local county health departments that can start distributing the vaccine while the folks dealing with the Pfizer vaccine are vaccinating in large medical centers. So we'll have two arms, two vaccines going at the same time.
SANDOVAL: As the nation continues to grapple with record infection, death, and hospitalization rates, states continue their push to vaccinate as many people as they can. New Jersey expects to open six so-called vaccine mega sites next month. The part of Governor Phil Murphy's push to get 70 percent of the state's nearly nine million residents vaccinated within the next six months.
It won't be easy, though. New Jersey's health commissioner says doses from the federal government are already fewer than expected. On Saturday the army general responsible for overseeing vaccine distribution addressed what he called a miscommunication over available doses in several states.
GEN. GUSTAVE PERNA, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, OPERATION WARP SPEED: There is no problem with the process. There is no problem with the Pfizer vaccine. There is no problem with the Moderna vaccine. Right? It was a planning error and I am responsible.
SANDOVAL: Despite the complications, General Gustave Perna confident the country is on track to allocate 20 million vaccine doses by the end of the year. The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, says he's more concerned about vaccine confidence than vaccine supply.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Are you ready?
SANDOVAL: On Saturday, he assured Americans that reports of allergic reactions after vaccine injections are normal and to be expected.
DR. JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: If you're someone who has had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine in the past, please let your health provider know.
But to everyone else out there, please know this means the system is working. We are recognizing and catching these very, very rare side effects.
SANDOVAL: Side effects remain extremely rare says Adams. He insists the COVID-19 vaccine is the way to end a pandemic that's raging across the country and particularly ravaging the state of California. It's the worst this seasoned ICU doctor has seen since the start of the pandemic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, we need L.A. to turn into a ghost town again. That's what we need. So that we can try to save as many people and heal as many souls.
SANDOVAL: And just yesterday, a hospital in Chicago's suburb put their vaccination program on a temporary pause after four of their frontline workers experienced what was described as some adverse reactions. They're said to be OK this morning.
The hospital system there reviewing the quality of the batch that they received, made sure that was good to go, as well as their protocols that are in place, and are resuming that program, Christi and Victor, that's about four employees out of about nearly 3,000 employees in that hospital system who have received that vaccine.
BLACKWELL: Polo Sandoval for us this morning. Thank you, Polo. PAUL: Still want to go to CNN's Pete Muntean in Olive Branch, Mississippi. Pete, you did such a great job of walking us through Pfizer's rollout when we were sitting in the same place last week. Talk to us about what you're seeing this morning and what we're expecting to see very soon, as well, as this continues.
PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Christi. We're standing by for the shipments to begin here. Actually, we can see inside of this McKesson facility, that's the company handling the distribution of the Moderna vaccine. The loading docks standing by. The large freezers standing by. The distribution process here essentially about to turn into one big factory production line.
In fact, this is a bit of a strategic spot. We're not too far away from Memphis, which is the headquarters of FedEx. It and UPS will be carrying the packages to 3,000 individual locations across the country. This rollout, about four times the size of the initial Pfizer rollout. And this morning Operation Warp Speed insists that it is ready for this second wave of the vaccine to go out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERNA: We are prepared. So, what does the playbook look like? Distribution of Moderna vaccine has already begun. Moderna has moved vaccine from their fill-finish manufacturing sites to McKesson who will serve as the central distributor.
At McKesson distribution centers, boxes are being packed and loaded today. Trucks will begin rolling out tomorrow from FedEx and UPS delivering vaccines and kits to the American people across the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MUNTEAN: The Moderna vaccine does have one advantage over the Pfizer vaccine. It does not need to be stored at super-cold temperatures. In fact, a regular freezer will do just fine. That opens up this vaccine to plenty of rural areas that do not have deep freezers.
Six million doses are starting to go out today. The deliveries begin starting tomorrow and it all begins right here in Mississippi.
BLACKWELL: Pete Muntean, thank you so much. Let's bring in Dr. Saju Mathew now, primary care physician and public health specialist. Dr. Mathew, good morning to you.
Let me start of here. Does the addition of the second vaccine, Moderna now added to Pfizer and BioNtech, does it realign the timing of vaccinations for the general public, for people who are not in these prioritized categories?
DR. SAJU MATHEW, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Yes. Good morning, Victor. Obviously so excited. I'm just waiting to hear Dr. Redfield give the final nod for the Moderna approval.
Listen, the more vaccines we have in the mix, the quicker that we're going to get to all the groups. A lot of essential workers, our bus drivers, our Uber drivers, what about teachers? So many people, so many groups are lobbying to get to the front of the line. So the bottom line is this is a good problem to have, and the United States is the first country to have two approved vaccines for COVID-19.
BLACKWELL: But for those people who are not essential workers, you know, I always go to (INAUDIBLE) and payroll, was just my average person, early 40s, mother of two, who is not in any of these categories. Does she move up from, you know, early summer to late spring, to March, because we've got now this new vaccine?
MATHEW: Absolutely. Once we start getting the rollout, and we just heard from Paul, the reporter, about how much easier it's going to be to get Moderna vaccine out to the rural areas. Let's remember Pfizer's cold-chain supply can become challenging.
I live here in Atlanta, and our hospital has had to buy multiple deep freezers. So what about small, rural counties where people cannot have those capabilities?
So the more vaccines that we have in the mix, absolutely, the quicker that each group will move up the line. I just, you know, hope and pray that with each rollout we're going to get better and better so that all the states get the allocated vaccine doses that they were promised.
BLACKWELL: So the data from Moderna suggests that it may reduce disease and transmission which we don't have the transmission element from the Pfizer and BioNtech vaccine. That I understand could have a significant compound impact. Explain it.
MATHEW: Absolutely. So, Victor, if you think about how vaccines work -- simple example, the flu vaccine. If you get the flu shot, it doesn't necessarily mean that you won't get the flu, it just means that if you do get the flu, it won't be as severe. So basically what vaccines do is it prevents disease or severity of disease. We know that both of these vaccines will prevent disease. The question is will it prevent the transmission of infection.
So say for instance I'm sitting next to somebody in the airport, and I'm vaccinated but this gentleman next to me is not. Well, I'm technically going to be protected against COVID, but if I have the virus in my nose and mouth area and we don't wear masks, I could potentially transmit the virus just by talking to a gentleman sitting right next to me who is not vaccinated.
Moderna actually did that study and they found out that when they swabbed the nasal areas, Victor, that a lot of people did not have the virus that were asymptomatic. Remember, 50 percent of patients with COVID don't know they have COVID, but they can still transmit the virus.
BLACKWELL: All right. Such a bright day. A lot going on this morning. We see on the right side of the screen, the McKesson facility that's in Olive Branch, Mississippi, as the vials are being packed up, waiting for the approval from the CDC director for those to now be injected starting as soon as tomorrow. Dr. Saju Mathew, thank you so much for your insight -- Christi.
PAUL: All right. We're getting new details from two sources on this heated meeting at the White House this week. We know that it started with the president and his advisers meeting lawyer Sidney Powell and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. And at one point Flynn suggested that President Trump could invoke martial law as part of his efforts to overturn the election. He's also floated the idea publicly. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FLYNN: He could order the -- within the swing states, if he wanted to, he could take military capabilities, and he could place them in those states and basically rerun an election in each of those states. I mean, it's not unprecedented. These people are out there talking about martial law like it's something that we've never done. We've done -- martial law has been instituted 64 -- 64 times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: "New York Times" reporter and CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman said various officials in the meeting forcefully pushed back on that idea. And they also shot down the suggestion of naming Powell as a special counsel to investigate the president's false voter fraud claims.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (on the phone): The president not just that it came up last night is my understanding, the president asked about it, and it was pushed back on by everybody in the room. Mark Meadows, White House chief of staff, and particularly Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, were forceful in saying Powell should not be some kind of special counsel appointed serving in the White House.
The president talked about getting her a security clearance to allow her to do her work. Various other officials in the administration came in also said that shouldn't happen. Sidney Powell at some point when she was pushed by others who said you keep alleging fraud, but you've shown no proof, she brandished a bunch of affidavits that also had a person -- has an expert witness whose credentials had come into question.
It didn't appear to end with her getting appointed, but it left a lot of Trump advisers alarmed about him reaching a new place in his quest to try to question the results of the election with just a few weeks left in his term.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
PAUL: Now listen, it was not clear whether the president endorsed that idea of martial law. He did tweet that it was fake news, though. BLACKWELL: Lawmakers say a deal is close. It's within sight on a desperately needed COVID relief package. We'll tell you if you might see a new stimulus check.
PAUL: Also, President Trump's disputing findings that Russia was behind that massive cyber attack on the government and denying the danger that it poses to our country. Coming up, the clash with officials in his own administration right now.
BLACKWELL: Lawmakers say they are close to a deal on a new COVID relief package.
PAUL: Yes. The deadline is midnight tonight to avoid a government shutdown and help people who are suffering so much in this pandemic- driven economy that we're dealing with. Sarah Westwood is live at the White House for us with the very latest. Sarah, what do you know about the movement we've seen overnight?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, good morning, Victor and Christi. And, yes, after weeks where an agreement just did not look possible, a deal is finally in sight for economic relief with lawmakers reaching an agreement in principle after hours of talks yesterday on a $900 billion stimulus package. That's after they resolved the last big sticking point. And that was an objection brought by Republican Senator Pat Toomey over the Federal Reserve's emergency lending powers.
Toomey and Republicans wanted those powers wound down. They were granted in the March round of stimulus. They said that that would amount to essentially a slush fund for Biden once he takes office. But Democrats said that lending authority from the fed is still necessary to prop up the economy. They also argue that winding it down now would tie Biden's hands when he comes into office for his ability to continue economic relief.
The text of the bill has not been released yet. That's something that's expected to get hammered out on Capitol Hill today. But we do know the broad outlines of what we can expect to see. That includes $300 per week in additional unemployment support for people, $600 in direct payments to individuals, and $330 billion in small business loans. Crucial for businesses suffering on -- with increased restrictions across this country as COVID surges.
Schools are expected to get more than $80 billion in support. And there's expected to be billions more in there for direct -- for helping with the distribution of vaccines. Now despite being disengaged for weeks as lawmakers handled the negotiations, President Trump weighed in on Twitter last night and he was not exactly sharing the optimism that we saw other lawmakers express. He said, "Why isn't Congress giving our people a stimulus bill? It wasn't their fault, it was the fault of China. Get it done, and give them more money in direct payments."
Now, obviously pressure is building on lawmakers to get people relief as businesses are suffering under these increased lockdowns. There are still potential pitfalls, though, in the negotiations that are left to be done. For example, Republicans want a chunk of that school money to go to private schools. Democrats don't want as much money to go to those private schools. They want to keep it for public schools. So, there are a lot of things to still be worked out.
And to add just another wrinkle, Congress is looking to pass at the same time a massive $1.4 trillion funding package to keep the government operating, and they're looking to do that as soon as tonight, possibly on Monday. So, a lot of moving pieces still but a deal finally in sight, Victor and Christi.
BLACKWELL: Thank you, Sarah Westwood, at the White House.
PAUL: So, it's time to meet President-elect Joe Biden's climate team. He called them a barrier busting team as he unveiled an ambitious plan to address what he calls the existential threat of our time, climate change.
BLACKWELL: He also talked about creating jobs, transportation, and energy infrastructures and lowering the nation's carbon emissions. CNN political reporter Rebecca Buck is in Washington. So, tell us about the team, Rebecca.
REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Good morning, Victor and Christi.
Well, we heard from the president-elect yesterday about this climate team and about his focus on climate issues that he intends to follow through on as president of the United States. I want you to take a listen to what he had to say about his approach and his view of these issues and his team working on them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Folks, we're in a crisis. Just like we need to be a unified nation to response to COVID- 19, we need a unified national response to climate change.
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our climate crisis is not a partisan issue and it is not a hoax. It is an existential threat to all of us, particularly poor communities and communities of color who bear the greatest risks from polluted air, polluted water, and a failing infrastructure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCK: Obviously a very different message and tone in these remarks compared to what we have heard from the current administration and the current president on these issues. Of course, President Trump's administration has rolled back many environmental regulations. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris signaling that they are going to be taking a very different approach to climate issues.
Now, when it comes to the climate team who will be helping them herald in these changes leading the way on these changes, you mentioned toward barrier breaking. The term barrier breaking and that is an apt description of the team we are looking at from Biden. We have for example, Congresswoman Deb Haaland, his pick to lead the interior department. She would be the first Native American to serve in that role, the interior department.
Part of its purview, of course, is to oversee tribal lands in the United States. And so it's consistency with what we have seen across the board with Biden's cabinet picks thus far. He's looking for new voices, diverse voices that reflect the country itself to lead on these issues, Christi and Victor.
PAUL: All right. Rebecca Buck, good to know, thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: So expecting in just a few minutes the workers here at Moderna to continue to pack and ship out the first of their vaccines. It will be the second vaccine approved for emergency use in the U.S. And after the break, we'll speak with a doctor who was among the first in the U.S. to receive the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, and he'll tell us how he's feeling and what the vaccine means to him and his patients.
PAUL: Big morning today because any moment CDC Director Robert Redfield could sign off on the Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine. What you're looking at here is Olive Branch, Mississippi. The McKesson plant, that is where they are packing up doses of that vaccine, getting ready to load them into trucks and get them out to the hospitals and facilities that will use them.
Again, that cannot happen until Director Redfield signs off. But once he does, they will be ready to go. Those pictures that we're seeing are such good news for so many people, particularly some of those in rural areas who will be better able to store and utilize this Moderna vaccine as opposed to the Pfizer because -- just because of the storage requirements here. But let's talk to Dr. Rishi Seth.
He's of South -- Sanford South University Medical Center. And he received one of the first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines here in the U.S. Good morning to you, doctor. First of all, how are you feeling?
DR. RISHI SETH, SANFORD SOUTH UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: I feel great this morning. Thank you very much.
PAUL: OK. So, no side effects for you. For people who are waiting to get this vaccine, can you give them any indication of what it was like? SETH: Well, the -- when I had the vaccine, initially, I had absolutely no side effects or symptoms whatsoever. The next morning, I had a little bit of pain at the site of the injection site, but after that -- after about a couple hours, it went away. And I had no other residual side effects.
PAUL: I understand that when you received that vaccine, in your mind, you were thinking about your patients. Talk to me about what kind of a moment that was for you?
SETH: Well, I think one of the moments for me, it was -- it was a kind of a transition point. I -- you first think about the patients that you had been taking care of, the weeks and months before, even the fact, for me, the day of and thinking about how far we've come, and how far in this battle we've had to do.
Then, you also think about what's on in the future? Are my -- some of my patients who are immunocompromised, or my patients who are at risk for COVID-19, or severe illness with COVID-19, are they -- or is -- or do they have a chance? So, is this -- is this a good opportunity? And you get really hopeful about those moments?
PAUL: How anxious are your patients to get this vaccine? What are they telling you about their emotional state?
SETH: I think there's a -- there's a lot of level of excitement. I think there's a lot of level of curiosity, too. Because there's a lot of information out in the public, and part of being, you know, good stewards of information, we want to be able to inform the -- my patients in generally about the safety of these treatments. And I think the patients are really excited about that.
PAUL: So, talk to me about the fact that we now have two vaccine options. The federal government funded eight potential vaccines; these are the two we have at the moment. Do you think there will be a need for any other version? Do you think Moderna and Pfizer will be everything that we need them to be?
SETH: I think the more help, the better. Because right now, we are -- we are trying to manage quite a surge in the entire part of the country. Fortunately, in the state of North Dakota, it appears that our numbers are improving, but it has not gone away. And we do -- we have some patients on a daily basis. So, with the more help, the better. I think that this is a wonderful thing.
PAUL: I know the number of cases and the number of deaths just in the last couple of weeks has -- it's really been staggering. We've been setting records, which based on where we were in the spring. I don't think anybody could foresee it being where it is right now. Help us understand what you're dealing with when you go to the hospital right now. What is a day at work look like? What does it feel like to you?
SETH: Well, the day at work can be varied. You can have a number of sick patients, and a number of extremely sick patients. And, and each patient is very different. So, when you may -- come to the bedside for a -- for a very sick patient, they could be sick from a pony standpoint, or it could be from another standpoint, and you're trying your best to manage them.
But at the same time, you're trying to relinquish some of their fears and tell them that things are going to be OK, and hope that things are going to be OK. What now day to day as you see the numbers go up in the United States, one of the things I hope is that instead of we -- us focusing on a big number, we focus on the individual patient. And that's what I try to do on my day-to-day practice.
PAUL: Yes, because these individual patients are relying on you. Dr. Rishi Seth from Fargo, North Dakota, we hope you continue to feel well thank you for all the work you and your teams are doing. We appreciate you.
SETH: Thank you very much. Thank you.
PAUL: Of course. Thank you. And tonight, join Anderson Cooper to learn how the country defeated the 1918 influenza pandemic. The new CNN "SPECIAL REPORT: HOW A VIRUS HANGED THE WORLD IN 1918" begins at 9:00 Eastern tonight.
BLACKWELL: Experts are still assessing the damage from a cyberattack on the U.S. government. President Trump is downplaying the severity of this attack. Coming up, we have with us Colonel Cedric Leighton, a retired Naval Intelligence officer. He said this of this scope, the U.S. just realized that we're a J.V. team in the middle of the Super Bowl. He'll expound that and tell us the risk from this massive attack.
PAUL: Thirty-nine minutes past the hour right now. Good to see you. President Trump is downplaying this massive cyber attack on the U.S. government.
BLACKWELL: He's also contradicting his own Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by suggesting without evidence That China could be responsible for this huge hack. Let's remind you of what Pompeo said. This was Friday.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I think it's the case that now we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Let's bring in CNN Military Analyst, Retired Air Force, Colonel Cedric Leighton, a large part of his military career was spent working for or with the National Security Agency. It's the principal agency charged with collecting Cyber Intelligence. Colonel, welcome back. Let's start here with the President's tweets, where he wrote the cyber hack is far greater in the fake news media than in actuality.
I've been fully briefed, and everything is well under control. Russia, Russia, Russia is a priority chant when anything happens, because lamestream is for mostly financial reasons, petrified of discussing the possibility that it may be China. It may be -- I'm not going to read the rest of that. So, what is the plausibility or probability that it was China to take the President's claim here? And let's start there, and I'll bring the second half after your answer.
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Victor, it was basically less than five percent, that it would be the Chinese. Of course, the Chinese have an amazing cyber capability, offensive cyber capability. But the fact of the matter is the tactics, techniques, and procedures, as we call them, that were used in this hack or (INAUDIBLE) hack are definitely Russian.
And that's how the attribution is basically looked at. You know, how did they do it? Where did they employ their tactics? How were they have been able to extract information, if that's what they did? All of that goes into the analysis. And that's how we came up with the fact that it is Russia. And that's why Secretary Pompeo said that, as well.
BLACKWELL: Yes, we know the president, even before he was president, anytime that Russia was blamed for something nefarious would try to downplay it and say, Look over there, even in the debate with Secretary Clinton said that the interference in the election could have been some 400-pound person sitting on their bed.
This type of reaction is expected from the president because of that history. The Russians, if they are responsible, they knew that. Is it -- is it -- is it less consequential than it was four years ago, because people expected this is what's going to happen?
LEIGHTON: Well, I think we took the eye off the ball, you know, it's a -- it's one of those things, Victor, where we were so focused on election security, and it absolutely was an issue that we needed to take care of, that we also forgot that they're going to be looking -- our rivals are going to be looking at different things in our networks. And they knew that our focus would be on the elections.
So, they started prying around and finding things that they could exploit. And one of those vulnerabilities was the so-called SolarWinds hack. In other words, the attack on the server that the I.T. company, SolarWinds, uses to update their software. And that, of course, was a key vulnerability because of where SolarWinds puts its -- puts its material and where they have their clients'.
BLACKWELL: Expound on this; this is the quote that you sent one of my producers about the scope and depth of the hack. The U.S. just realized that we're a J.V. team in the middle of the Super Bowl.
LEIGHTON: So, here's the problem. You know, when you have a sports team, especially at the high school level, there are a lot of walk-on players. And the way we have organized our cyber defenses -- yes, we've got really good professionals that are working in some parts of the -- of the private sector, and definitely in the public sector. The problem is hackers exploit our weakest link.
And that's part of the walk-on portion of our -- of our cybersecurity team. It doesn't mean they can't be made into professionals. But the training that we've given to our people is the type of training that is a, you know, at best, intermittent, it's more of a checklist-type mentality. Instead of looking for the creative type of exploits that the Russians and the Chinese and others would potentially use against us.
And that's, I think, where our big weakness is. We need more training; we need more effective training. And we need to be thinking like our adversaries. And we're not doing that right now.
BLACKWELL: So, that's a couple of the fixes. Let's broaden that. Because is this something that the U.S. can do unilaterally? Or will there have to be some bilateral cooperation to protect the U.S. and protect allies?
LEIGHTON: Oh, I think we need to go the multilateral route. Frankly, Victor, I think what we need to do is have an international convention on cybersecurity. What is acceptable, what isn't acceptable, but at the very least, you know, if that isn't a realistic possibility, or there are people that you know, obviously have other interests in this realm. I -- we definitely need to work closely with our allies, like the British, the French, the Germans, the Japanese, the Koreans and others.
That's what we need to be able to do; we need to be able to work with our people in the country, as well, as people in other countries. Because the internet is a global issue. And with the advent of things like the head of things, it's going to be even more pervasive. And we need to have these protections in place yesterday. I -- and if we don't do something about it, it's going to be way too late.
BLACKWELL: Multilateral approach there. Colonel Leighton, thank you so much for your insight. Enjoy the week.
LEIGHTON: You, too, Victor, thanks so much for having me, and happy holidays.
BLACKWELL: To you, too. Christi?
PAUL: I want to show you some live pictures right now. This is inside the shipping facility in Olive Branch, Mississippi. Moderna's vaccine getting ready to be shipped across the country there. They're packing the boxes; they are going to be loading them up on trucks, so they can get them out to the airports, and onto the trucks that will take them to the hospitals, rural and city, to make sure that these vaccines are available.
Again, this is the Moderna packing process. You can see all of the people, they're very, very early, 5:45 in the morning for the folks there in McKesson, which is in Olive Branch, Mississippi. And right near Memphis, we're told, which is where FedEx headquarters
are. FedEx and UPS will be receiving those boxes and help ship them out. So, we're going to continue to watch this process this morning. Also, a new viral strain means new restrictions in the U.K. We are live in London with the response to those restrictions, something that the Health Minister there says is out of control now.
BLACKWELL: Packed stations, a lot of chaos and travel in parts of the U.K. People are desperately trying to get where they need to be before the severe new restrictions come into force today. Millions of people are under a new level of lockdown. It's known as tier four, which will impact Christmas plans for families across the country.
PAUL: Yes, the British government said it had no choice because of how quickly this new strain of COVID-19 appears to be spreading. Salma Abdelaziz is in London with these new restrictions. As we understand it, Salma, they caught a lot of people by surprise. What can you tell us?
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: These were really 11th hour rules that went into place last night. So much so that the message was if you've packed your bags, unpack them. That's how quickly they were pulling people back from airports and trains. But rather than following this guidance, of course, there are people who are doing the opposite, flooding -- to try to get out of London.
I know you're looking at pictures there of train stations overwhelmed, and that's because this really was a surprise. The Prime Minister had been insistent that he wouldn't put any restrictions into place. He mocked and ridiculed the opposition Labour Party for mentioning it, said that he wasn't going to criminalize Christmas, but then this absolute about face, this complete U-turn. Take a listen to how he justified the change of heart.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Let me, first of all, just say to everybody who's made plans for Christmas. As I said earlier on, everybody who's thought about it, all the care and love that's gone into plans for Christmas, we of course, bitterly regret the changes that are -- that are necessary, but alas, when the facts change, you have to change your approach and the briefing that I had yesterday about this mutation of the virus, particularly about the speed of transmission, was not possible to ignore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABDELAZIZ: Now, tier four rules into place. That essentially functions like a lockdown but on the local level. Stay at home, work from home, don't go out. And of course, all travel in and out of these regions is banned. Also, relaxation period for five days. I've been planning for Christmas time, that is now cancelled. But the question is, will people heed these orders? A great deal of frustration at how this has been rolled out. A front page of a newspaper today putting it perfectly, "The right decision but in the wrong way and at the wrong time?" Victor and Christi?
BLACKWELL: A lot of people impacted there. Salma Abdelaziz in London, thank you.
PAUL: So, the Rose Bowl, never thought I'd be saying this, it's heading to Texas for the first time since World War II. The iconic New Year's Day game is going to be played not in Pasadena.
BLACKWELL: Yes, it's going to be played at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium. In a statement last night, officials said they felt like the game could have been played in California despite the surge in cases there. They've been hoping a limited number of people would be allowed to attend, but that request has been denied. Texas has been allowing fans in larger numbers since late summer.
PAUL: So, Moderna's vaccine is getting ready to be shipped across the country. Take a look at some of the action that's happening there at Olive Branch, Mississippi at McKesson plant. That's the central distributor for this. Stay with us, as we continue to follow that breaking news.
BLACKWELL: First, this year, we asked viewers to vote on this year's most inspiring moment to be honored at CNN Heroes, an All-Star Tribute. Here's Anderson Cooper with the moment that was chosen.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Sometimes a photograph can capture the mood and the attention of the world. In June, one image did just that. During a protest on the streets of London events turned violent. Black Lives Matter group was there to condemn statues and people with racist ties, and many white protesters were there to protect the statues.
Things got heated. One man, Britton male, a white, former police officer wandered into the crowd and he started to get beat up. One of the Black Lives Matter protesters, Patrick Hutchinson, saw that he was in peril. Patrick moved in, picked up the injured Britton, carried him through the crowd to safety.
PATRICK HUTCHINSON, BLACK LIVES MATTER SUPPORTER: The biggest thing for me was making sure that no harm came to him because I knew if harm had come to him, the narrative would just be changed. And then, the blame would be fall on the young, Black Lives Matter's protesters. We made sure we got him out of there safely.
COOPER: Patrick, a father and grandfather, hopes that everyone who sees the image, understands that the responsibility to do the right thing resides in all of us.
HUTCHINSON: We just want equality for all races, for all people. That right now, we're the ones who seemed to be the oppressed ones, and it's about time things will change, you know, the world over.
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